Notes for Azed 2,705

There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible, by email.

Azed 2,705 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

There were some relatively tricky clues in this one, including a couple where an obscure wordplay element was involved in producing an obscure answer, but the three six-letter hiddens and several straightforward anagrams (albeit not always resulting in familiar words) served to keep the overall difficulty level close to the middle of the Azed spectrum. The clues were generally of good quality and made for an entertaining solve, although the across entries did feature a remarkable number of Scotticisms.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 24d, “Pieces in column are woeful (6)”. Putting a three-letter word for the pieces on a chessboard into a three-letter Indian word for an isolated pillar produces a familiar verb, which could be defined as ‘to wail’ or ‘to deplore’; indeed this clue could have been written as ‘Deplore pieces in column’. But Azed has taken the opportunity for the sort of misdirection which is often available when defining intransitive verbs. Take a verb like GRIP – apart from obvious ‘like for like’ verbs such as ‘grasp’, it could also be defined as (say) ‘are fast’, eg in ‘Those leading grand race in Paris are fast’; similarly ‘grips’ could be ‘is fast’. Don’t ignore the possibility of participles as well as adjectives: LEAVE could be defined as ‘are splitting’ and RUNS as ‘is dashing’.


2a Moves from one picture to another, putting votes about strong personal preference (10)
A seven-letter word for the marks put on ballot papers by voters (not explicitly given by Chambers, although the entry for ‘X’ provides more than enough support) contains a word which I think of as meaning a temporary craze but is also defined by C as ‘an overriding personal preference or taste, esp trifling’. The solution is hyphenated, 5-5.

13a Weak Scotch removed from barrel? Jock’s may collapse (6)
A seven-letter Scots word meaning ‘weak’ has the usual abbreviation for ‘barrel’ removed, the result being another Scots word, this one describing a construction which is rickety or ramshackle, being (probably coincidentally) a blend of those two adjectives

18a Menial employee Jock’s present – something for his porridge? (6)
A term for the sort of menial employee who might be dwarfed by the large wheel wherein he finds himself is followed by a Scots word (good old Jock again – perhaps a different stereotypical Caledonian would have been good) for ‘[to] present’ (which Robert Burns hoped some power might do with the giftie to see oursels as others see us). The whole is a wooden bowl such as might be found in the kitchen of Hamish and Morag.

20a Venomous creature – overturned box on it (5)
The sort of box sought by Indiana Jones is reversed (‘overturned’) and followed by the letters IT (from the clue).

23a Part of stale dressing that is returned to trade (6)
For a moment this looked like it might be a fourth ‘hidden’, but in fact it involves a reversal (‘returned’) of the usual abbreviation meaning ‘that is’ being followed by a four-letter word meaning ‘to trade’.

30a The colour of Scotch? First denied in clink! (6)
A seven-letter slang word for prison (‘clink’) is deprived of its first letter (‘First denied’). And yes, the answer is another Scots word.

32a Childless one north of the border begging for wean there (5)
A two-letter abbreviation of the Latin for ‘without issue’ combines with a Scots form of ‘one’ to produce (you guessed it) yet another Scots word. Those of us who have a problem with relative geography of the ‘Kent = SE’ and ‘up north = Scottish’  kind should be fine with ‘north of the border’, as this relates specifically to the border between England and Scotland (although Chambers suggests that it should be ‘the Border’ when used in that sense).


1d Deduction, concern agreed upon in time some way in the future (12)
A four-letter word for concern (typically now encountered only in the eight-letter word which describes a complete lack of such concern and might be applied to particularly bad driving) and a two-letter adjective meaning ‘agreed upon’ are contained by a word that Chambers defines as ‘a place or time some way off’ and which I believe I have only ever seen as part of the phrase ‘in the ??????’. The solution is hyphenated, 3-9.

2d Flying creature that makes murmuring sound catching worm (6)
The three-letter soft murmuring sound characteristic of certain birds contains (‘catching’) the sort of worm which is to be found, thankfully, in the sand rather than the ear.

3d Variegated stone, one pocketed by vagabond (9, 2 words)
The Roman numeral representing ‘one’ is contained (‘pocketed’) by an eight-letter word for a vagabond or (perhaps more helpfully) a turncoat, the result being a (4,5) term for a stone so called because of the markings which it exhibits.

6d Men denied food were striking (4)
The definition here is of the sort covered in Setters’ Corner above, while the wordplay has a seven-letter word for food being deprived of the consecutive letters MEN – this operation strikes me as being legitimately indicated by ‘Food denied men’ but not ‘Men denied food’, with (at the very least) a comma being required between ‘denied’ and ‘food’.

7d What’s suggested by iron making loss (8)
My immediate thought (presumably my long-distant Chemistry training showing through) was that ‘Fe’ would be involved, but in fact we have two definitions, one ‘straight’ and the other whimsical (‘iron’ turning out to be a verb rather than an adjective).

9d Gunners on post left in shifting scree, zigzag fortifications (12)
I think that the ‘Gunners’ here should be ‘Sappers’ – their two-letter abbreviation is followed by the sort of four-letter ‘mail’ that might be found in a 25 across and the usual abbreviation for ‘left’, the whole shebang being put inside an anagram (‘shifting’) of SCREE. The clue would, in fact, work if the ‘Gunners’ were simply omitted, since ‘On post left’ will deliver the necessary 2+4+1 combination. Interestingly, the original French form of the word for ‘a crook with a rack or notches for hanging pots over a fire’ which gives its name to the fortifications was spelt with the Gunners in positions two and three, but the modern spelling is the one which is given by Chambers, and which tallies with the last letter of 13 across.

21d This uni is overdrawn, one assumes (6)
To make sense of the wordplay here, you need to apply the answer (ie ‘This‘) to UNI, producing an anagram thereof, and then pre-process ‘overdrawn’ into a (2,3,3) phrase, which is where you put those rearranged letters. To understand the definition, you then need to replace ‘This‘ in the clue with the answer.

22d Strong stew Laplander is served around his capital (5)
A four-letter word (one of several alternative spellings) for a Laplander is put (‘served’) around the first letter of ‘Laplander’ (ie ‘his capital’). Had ‘his capital’ been ‘Los Angeles’, the result would have been a spicy sausage rather than a strong stew.

23d What sounds like key for small hole (6)
The ‘key’ in this neat homophone clue is the sort that might be found off the coast of Florida.

27d Composer all besotted with love (4)
Classical music certainly isn’t my forte (I don’t know my arsis from my alto), and I wasn’t familiar with the surname of the composer here, Édouard-Victoire-Antoine of that ilk (presumably known as EVA to his friends). I understand, though, that his Symphonie Espagnole is still widely played by modern orchestras.

(definitions are underlined)

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5 Responses

  1. Debra says:

    Any help with 10 across?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Debra

      10a – “Light woollen fabric mostly in a tangle (5)”. The wordplay here involves the last letter being removed from (‘mostly’) a word meaning ‘tangled’, largely in a nautical sense, as a net might get tangled on a propeller, or a line around a windlass. The answer (a light woollen fabric) is a word that comes directly from the French language.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Bob says:

    Hi DC
    How does “begging “ figure in 32, it seems redundant to me?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Bob

      You’re right – it is redundant…at best. It’s Azed’s attempt at linking the wordplay to the definition in a way that offers a good surface reading. “Childless one north of the border / wean there” doesn’t make sense without something where the ‘/’ is, but the options which work best cryptically, such as ‘producing’, don’t really help, while ‘adopting’ (say) is no good in the cryptic reading. Frankly, I’m not sure that ‘begging for’ is much better. Something tacked onto the wordplay like ‘goes after’ or ‘follows’ would probably be the most acceptable compromise; alternatively, the link word ‘and’ (not a favourite of mine) would represent a bland option.